What to do if my apartment lease agreement says all occupants must have renters insurance and show proof of said insurance prior to signing and move in?

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What to do if my apartment lease agreement says all occupants must have renters insurance and show proof of said insurance prior to signing and move in?

I had renters insurance, my roommates did not. However, the lease was signed by all parties and we were allowed to move in. Now the complex says we are in violation of our lease because not all of us have insurance. I was wondering if the lease was void? If we are in violation now, we were in violation before we moved in. How could they let us move in if we were in violation? Can we legally get out of the lease without any penalties?

Asked on December 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, the lease is not void: contracts (leases are contracts) are generally voidable when there is fraud, legal impossibility, or mutual mistake (mistake on the part of all parties) as to the facts existing at the time--none of which is what has happened here. Rather, you and your roommates are in breach of the lease, since you have failed to collectively fulfill a material (or important) obligation under the lease; having breached it, you can all be evicted. Furthermore, you and your roommates will be liable to the landlord for the rent for the full remaining term of the lease, or until the unit is re-rented, whatever comes first.

You have a good case for avoid liability and eviction if your roommates get renter's insurance--typically, when tenants violate a lease, they may not immediately be evicted, but rather get a chance to cure, or correct, the problem. Your roommates should get renters insurance immediately. If they do not and you are evicted or sued by the landlord, you in turn may be able to sue your roommates to make them pay your costs and losses, since, from what you write, you complied with the lease and it was their breach which has caused problems--but clearly, you'd rather avoid being in the situation of being homeless and liable to the landlord while trying to sue your roommates for compensation, so try to get them to get renter's insurance.


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